The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
Genre: Mystery Thriller
Plot: “Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning. Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy suburban homes, until that is she sees something shocking. Now everything’s changed. Rachel soon becomes inextricably entwined in what happens next, as well as in the lives of everyone involved.”
Review: “The Girl on the Train” was definitely the “it” book of the year. Many people compared it to “Gone Girl”, which honestly was a bit of a stretch in my mind. Yes, they are both mystery thrillers, and have unreliable narrators, but the similarities stop there. Even though I was weary of reading another book that’s been talk of the town, I decided to take a chance and hopefully don’t find myself burned a third time. Bit of fair warning, I will try my best to avoid spoilers, but if you want to know as least as possible about the plot, then you may want to skim down to my recommendation segment.
Still with me? Good, let’s talk about what I thought that this book did really well. I really liked the narration being divided by time: the morning and the evening. I thought that by cutting the day into two parts, it moved the flow of the story along and kept the chapters feeling short. I also found Rachel, the ‘main’ narrator, to be a believable alcoholic, and an interesting take on the unreliable narrator. The use of her black outs to add mystery to the plot was unique, I hand’t seen it done in a mystery novel before. Unfortunately, those are the only two features of this book that ended up enjoying, the book kind of went down hill after that.
This book got repetitive really quickly. Between Rachel’s drinking/self loathing routine, Anne’s constant bitching about Rachel, and characters commenting about the damn train over and over…it started to feel like deja vu. Also between the three female narrators, only Rachel’s voice was distinguishable to me, Megan and Anne were pretty one-dimensional characters in comparison. I hate weak female characters, and this book had three of them, they were all obsessed with how men view them and having babies. Give me a break. My biggest complaint though is that they ‘mystery’ in this story, was kind of flimsy. I was about less than half way through the book when I figured out who the killer was. But what really bugged me was the ending, which honestly didn’t make a lot of sense. It was like an episode of Scoobby Doo, the killer is revealed, he monologues for way too long, there’s a struggle, and then he dies. The end.
Recommendation: The pluses are that this book is mildly entertaining, and relatively short. Prefect for a train ride, if you want to get in the mood. The negatives, its a bit repetitive and the plot fails to deliver a compelling mystery. I would give this book a pass and read a book by a better mystery writer like Raymond Chandler or Patricia Highsmith.